In a world filled with frequent natural disasters and political unrest, more people than ever are keeping emergency preparedness kits to protect them and their families from potential threats. The governments of Canada and the US have both been putting an emphasis on emergency preparedness for the past few years, but some recent surveys from Stats Canada and the US Census Bureau indicate that only a small percentage of the population are adequately prepared in the event of any type of prolonged emergency situation.
For many people, getting started is half the battle. Building or purchasing an emergency kit can get quite expensive, and without an immediate need, it often gets pushed off into the future. While finding lists of what to include in your kit can be fairly easy, deciding which items are right for you or your family can be more difficult. Things like food and water should be a no brainer, but how will you power your lights, radios, and communication devices in the event of an emergency?
According to statistics, only 19% of US citizens and 23% of Canadians have a backup power source available to them. Many of these people are in rural areas and are using gas or diesel powered generators. This is fine if you have enough fuel stockpiled to last the duration, but what happens when the fuel runs out?
We have compiled a list of some of the most popular portable power solutions available that would be compatible with your emergency kit.
While portable solar can be a great and inexpensive option, it is not always the best choice during an emergency. Bad weather can greatly hinder your ability to produce power from solar and even when the sun is shining you only have a small window to attempt to get maximum output from your panels.
As outlined in our previous blog posts “How Does WaterLily Compare to Solar” & “The Disadvantages of Solar”, while there are many benefits of using a portable solar solution, you only have a limited time each day to use them and their output can be extremely dependent upon ideal weather conditions. An affordable solar panel can be a great addition to your kit, but be aware of its limitations if you are planning for any type of extended emergency.
Harnessing the power of wind is certainly not a new idea. People have been using this method for centuries. Today though, the technology has increased to the point where wind energy is a viable source of power in many areas and continues to improve. Micro wind turbines have also greatly improved in recent years, but using wind alone for your emergency power solutions does have its challenges.
The very nature of wind means that it is a variable power resource. Wind speeds and direction are constantly changing which can make it difficult to optimize your turbine to generate the power you need. During a natural disaster such as a hurricane, there will be too much wind to safely use a turbine. If you live in a city you may find it difficult to find a spot to deploy your turbine where it can maximize its output.
While wind can be a great option for backup power, it may not be your best choice for a primary power source in case of an emergency. There are just too many variables that may prevent you from getting the power you need, when you need it.
When it comes to producing power in an emergency there is nothing that will ultimately be as reliable as a hand crank. You have likely seen many crank powered radios and flashlights before and these types of devices will always find a home in emergency kits.
Modern hand crank generators such as The Pocket Socket 2 and the DFRobot hand crank are designed to produce much more power than older hand powered generators and allow you to charge modern devices without too much muscle power. Hand cranks are great when there is no other source of power available (that is why we made one for WaterLily!) but they do have their drawbacks. Other than the physical demands of manually cranking the handle to produce power, you will also need to sacrifice a lot of time to be able to produce any meaningful amount of energy.
Companies like GoalZero, Ecoflow, Anker, and Omnicharge are leading the way in portable power storage solutions. While GoalZero has their own compatible solar panels that work with their stations, they are able to be charged using a variety of generating devices.
While most of the smaller power banks on the market can only charge USB devices, the larger systems mentioned above give you the option of powering larger electronics for a longer period of time. Having the ability to plug your wall chargers into these devices make them ideal items to include in your emergency preparations.
A power station will not allow you to generate power in an emergency but the ability to store it can be just as important. A fully charged station can give you a great source of power, and when used in conjunction with a portable power generating device, they can allow you to have an indefinite source of power to get you through.
We may be a bit partial to WaterLily, but it makes the top of our list for good reason. Multiple sources of power. While WaterLily works best as a water turbine (hence the name!) it can also harvest energy from wind, and from human power via a hand crank accessory. This means that no matter what situation you may find yourself in, you will be able to produce enough power to charge your phone or radio. The USB version will allow you to connect to any device that has a USB connection and the 12V turbine gives you endless options for charging your batteries and devices.
WaterLily can be used to charge batteries and devices directly, or be used in conjunction with larger power stations to store energy and power larger devices. It’s small, lightweight design makes it extremely portable and it wont take up much room in your kit. When it comes to piece of mind in a disaster situation, WaterLily has your needs covered.
Deciding on which type of power solution is right for you can be difficult, but when you consider where you live and what kind of natural resources are available to you, you can start to filter your options and come to a decision that makes sense for you and your family. If you live near a stream or want a variety of options then you may consider a WaterLily turbine. If you are in the desert, however, portable solar may make more sense for you.
Whatever you decide upon, don’t wait for a disaster to happen before using it. Take it out and test it. Learn the proper setup techniques and get to know its benefits and limitations so that you will know what to do should an emergency arise.